Lychee Lovin’, Had me a Blast
Now that we’re full-swing into summer, it’s time to really get into the spirit of the season. Welcome sunny days, bikinis, sand and surf, barbecues — and lychee! I’m loving all of the above, but most especially lychee. This ever-so juicy, rosy-skinned fruit with translucent white flesh is a rarity in some parts of the Mainland, but here in Hawaii it’s abundant. Lucky we live Hawaii, huh?
I remember picking lychee from my grandparents’ tree in the back yard as a child and eating it fresh. The sweet floral aroma of the fruit alone was captivating, but once you get beyond the rind and into the meaty layer, that’s when you’re exposed to lychee at its finest. And from then on, it’s just one after the other into your mouth.
And taking it to the next level are the following Ono, You Know establishments that will make any lychee lover proud with its signature creations that magnify this luscious fruit. So, for your next picnic, you can check desserts off the list and cool off with a smoothie.
Then, later into the evening, grab the perfect company and sip on a superlative lychee cocktail as you enjoy these warm summer nights.
I consider myself blessed to have grown up in Manoa. It’s in close proximity to town, but it’s also its own peaceful oasis when you want to drown out the crowd. The lush valley is absolutely gorgeous and the cascading waterfalls are heaven sent. What’s even better is that I never had to leave the valley to experience some of the best restaurants and eateries. One of my favorites? Fendu Boulangerie, of course. Conveniently situated in Manoa Marketplace, this quaint bake shop is owned and operated by chef Niel Koep, who you’ll find in the kitchen fulfilling his passion and baking up a storm. The aroma of fresh breads and pastries engulf my senses, and Koep’s indulgent masterpieces are worth the extra calories.
My top picks are constantly changing, but currently, Lychee Danish ($2.25 each) and Lychee Caramel Flan are near and dear to my heart.
“I just love lychee. It’s perfect for anytime,” Koep says. “I use seedless lychee in my pastries.”
Knowing that Chef and I share a common love for this sweet fruit, I was eager to understand exactly how he incorporates lychee into both of these decadent treats.
Lychee Danish begins with basic Danish dough composed of legit European-style butter. It’s then filled with a blend of pastry cream and almond cream, and finally topped off with lychee and a drizzle of streusel. The dominant taste here is definitely the lychee, which automatically makes it a winner. However, the hint of almond pleases the taste buds as well, making for the perfect combination.
Then, spoil your sweet tooth even more with Lychee Caramel Flan ($4.50), which Koep describes as his unique spin off of the classic creme caramel dessert.
“I substitute some of the milk in the flan for lychee puree,” he says.
My, what a genius concept! The magic happens in the oven as the flan is baked to the perfect consistency. The finishing touch is the addition of vibrant pieces of watermelon, kiwi and blueberries to the top of the flan.
“I love to pair watermelon with lychee because both flavors go really well together. They don’t overpower each other,” Koep explains.
2752 Woodlawn Drive, #5119
Sushi YuZu breathes new life into West Oahu, as this restaurant specializing in innovative, izakaya-style sushi now calls Ko Olina home. Husband-and-wife team Isamu and Moco Kubato head the operations here and present their diners with only the best of bold flavors that bring a contemporary flair to traditional Japanese cuisine.
While the restaurant’s sushi standards of Omakase Hawaii and Omakase Japan are definite crowd pleasers, appetizers such as Heart of Palm Tempura and Australian Wagyu Lemon Beef start any meal off right.
But, alas, before any feast is devoured, it’s only fitting to cleanse the palate and prep it for the flavors to follow with a Lychee Saketini. Priced at $9, patrons gravitate to this alluring cocktail that offers a refreshingly sweet essence of Japanese sake (house sho chiku bai), lychee juice, vodka and a splash of acai juice. Quite an ideal mix, if I do say so myself. A lychee skewer is just an added bonus.
“Lychee Saketini is just that — it’s our blend of sake with a martini,” says manager Hideki Kimukai. “This cocktail offers a nice balance and the lychee flavor really stands out. It’s fruity, but it’s not too sweet or too strong,” he adds of this best-seller.
So, before you dive into Sushi YuZu’s renowned fare, submerge yourself into total relaxation that can only be achieved with a Lychee Saketini. Cheers, my friends!
92-1047 Olani St., Suite 1-101
HI Sandwich & Drink
With summer comes smoothies, at least that’s how it works in my book. Therefore, HI Sandwich & Drink in Waimalu Shopping Center is a staple in the heat. Why? Well, have you ever tried the multitude of smoothies here? Owner Kim Nguyen offers every flavor you can think of, and all it takes is one sip to ultimate paradise.
The famous Lychee Smoothie is priced at $4.95 for a 24-ounce cup filled with the perfect ratio of vanilla ice cream, sweet cream, ice and lychee. You can add on a second flavor for an additional price.
For a smoothie to obtain the perfect thickness, it’s all in the technique, and Nguyen has it down to a science. The Lychee Smoothie is so divine, it’s like drinking your dessert through a straw. I’m down for that! You also have the option to add black pearls, color jelly or grass jelly to your drink.
Besides HI Sandwich & Drink’s Lychee Smoothie, I’m a sucker for its yummy Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich). Choose your filling, which is paired with seasoned assorted veggies and nestled between two slices of freshly made French bread or croissant.
Say hello, to these summer must-haves!
Hi Sandwich & Drink
Waimalu Shopping Center
98-042 Kamehameha Hwy.